Representatives of the Board and ULFA negotiating teams met again on February 1st and on February 4th.
The February 1st meeting began with a review of the status of items opened in this round of negotiations, now that the teams are resuming negotiations after reaching impasse in mediation. The Board team presented a list of their understanding of items agreed to and signed off, opened items for further bargaining, and opened items to be dropped from further bargaining in this round of negotiations. The ULFA team agreed with the Board’s understanding of items provisionally settled and items remaining on the bargaining table, but did not agree with the Board’s third category.
The ULFA team had provisionally agreed to reduce the scope of bargaining during mediation with the explicit condition that this agreement was contingent upon reaching a successful settlement within mediation. The Board team did not agree with this understanding of events. After positions were further clarified through correspondence following the February 1st session, the Board filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint against ULFA. ULFA considers the complaint to be without merit and will defend its position if and when called upon to do so at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
In addition to this metadiscussion, some progress was made on February 1st in discussion of Schedule B (Economic Benefits). There was movement towards the creation of Professional Supplement funds for Sessional Lecturers, and the Board expressed a limited and conditional willingness to consider creating a joint committee to oversee benefits, as ULFA has repeatedly proposed. Several points of disagreement remain around benefits, including the details of these matters.
After the February 1st meeting, the ULFA team again reached out to propose a negotiating session on February 4th, which the Board team accepted. The February 4th meeting was devoted to presentations from the ULFA team of newly narrowed proposals for all of the Articles and Schedules that ULFA believes should still be open, focusing on key mandate items. The ULFA team expressed their hope that there is room in this broader list for the parties to find enough movement to settle a new contract, which would break the impasse reached on significantly narrower grounds during mediation.
At the end of the February 4th meeting, the Board team suggested Monday February 7th for the next negotiating meeting, and the ULFA team agreed.
You can follow the status of all Articles opened during this round of negotiations, including changes that have taken place within mediation, here (progress up to the start of mediation is available here).